As a little girl growing up in Iowa, I am used to snow. We had plenty of it and we LOVED it. When I say “we” I am referring to the kids. Me, my sister, our cousins, and our friends. I’m pretty sure my parents did not relish the white stuff like we did. As an adult, I understand a lot more about my parents because I see things from their perspective. Snow means cold, wet, puddles in the house, extra layers, extra laundry, hazardous travel, the list goes on. As a child, your perspective is completely different. Snow means bundling up, sledding, snow balls, snow angels, snowmen, snow ice cream, and basically hours of fun ahead of you in an enchanting winter wonderland. You see only the loveliness and none of the inconvenience. I am striving to change my grown-up and sometimes cynical perspective as winter approaches. I long to see winter through my kids’ eyes and embrace it wholeheartedly.
We have already had our first snow of the year. It came early! Living in SW Missouri now, we don’t expect measurable snow until late December or January. So it was an unexpected but not unwanted surprise when we had a whopping two inches to play in a couple weeks ago. Being at home this year with the kids has made all the difference for me. Homeschooling provides a peace to our days and weeks. We have time to take a snow day. The kids took advantage and played outside for a total of eight, yes eight, hours. They marveled at the falling snow, ran in it, danced in it, and pushed it into giant piles. They drank homemade hot cocoa, and went sledding. I stayed inside a good portion of the day, watching them from the window, admiring their resolve and imagination. Thinking back to my childhood, I remembered the anticipation and excitement of that first snow of the season. I recalled wanting to run out the door while my parents struggled to zip my coat and help my struggling fingers into my gloves. I laughed as I thought of my dad wrapping duct tape around the tops of our moon boots and the cuffs of our mittens, sealing them to our snow pants and coats to keep the snow from sneaking in. Eventually I made my way outside to play with my children. We went sledding, and I showed them how to make a good track and reduce the friction so they could sail down the hill. We built a snow cave and hiked through the blanket of white in the woods while we looked for signs of wildlife. I began to see things through their eyes and appreciate the snow a little more. And appreciate them and their childhood and their excitement.
It’s important as winter comes that we don’t let it stop us from taking our kids outside and into nature. And we can bring nature inside to investigate and explore through books, nature studies, and found treasures. Winter lends us this amazing opportunity to see the natural world in a whole new light. Evergreen trees, winter birds, and animal tracks abound. Plus, there’s the added bonus of no nagging ticks and mosquitoes to contend with. A win-win. We just have to take the time to get ready, don our snow clothes, hats and gloves, positive attitude and winning smile. Your kids will love it, and I think you will, too.